Starting a new business in the winter isn’t for the faint of heart, but neither is a mobile detailing business in the Ohio winters. We moved to a brick and mortar in January. After paying rent and a damage deposit I had three hundred dollars to my name and a baby on the way. The first couple of months after opening my father helped out to keep overhead as low as possible. Gradually as business grew I started adding employees. We started with some upgrades to the shop like paint, tile flooring, Swisstrax garage flooring, banners, signage to get the place looking decent, everything was going pretty smooth. Then while sitting at my desk, probably paying taxes, I heard a loud bang from outside…
What could be a detail shop/new business owners worst nightmare be? Water leak, roof leak, snow/rain cancellations? Sure they are all bad but let me throw another one at you that is unavoidable. Damaging a customer’s vehicle. Accidents happen regardless how careful you are. Our goal has always been to return a vehicle looking better than when it’s dropped off to us.
One of my employees just ran a customer’s dully work truck into the side of the building. He just short turned it and collapsed the rear passenger quarter panel. I was devastated. After getting quotes from three different body shops I was looking at around $2300 in damage. I’m thinking in my head “we’re done, I can’t pay that, I’ll have to get another job and take orders from somebody else, explain to my parents and wife that I failed in one year”. I called my friend and local State Farm agent, trying to decide whether to turn in a claim or how to proceed. He informed me that having been in business less than a year would probably result in my coverage being canceled. My wife and I discussed other options to come up with the money and continue with our coverage. After much deliberation I conceded to call State Farm back and proceed with filing a claim. We were certain they were going to cancel us. The next couple days were agonizing awaiting the call. We were holding the vehicle, until the repairs could be arranged. Finally my phone rang and I looked down to see the caller ID. To my surprise the gentleman answers in a jolly voice, “Hello, is this Mr. Pemberton?” I hesitantly answered, well it depends, expecting him to explain the truck wasn’t covered or my policy was canceled. He simply stated insurance will handle everything with the body shop just have the vehicle at the shop the following morning. I got off the phone, immediately called my wife to tell her the news, and felt the biggest relief since opening the business. We were lucky the customer was happy for us handling everything and most importantly we were left to continue following our dreams. Owning a small business, that’s all I can ask, my dream of providing a professional service and providing for my family.
Each month we gladly pay that insurance premium, and I can honestly say it saved our shop. If our policy had been terminated I would have been forced to close our business, forgo my dream, and find another means to support my family. Hard work, determination and many long hours has allowed the business to prosper. Through repeat business and word of mouth Pemberton Detailing continues to expand because of our high standards and customer satisfaction.
By Zak Pemberton, owner of Pemberton Detailing, a full service professional detailing company located in Chesapeake, Oh.